When I moved to New York, I began a relentless hunt for a book club. Turns out, it’s not as easy as one would think. Either the timing or the topics didn’t quite fit, so Goldilocks-style, I waited for the one that felt just right. Which, surprise surprise, fell right into my lap.
After moving to Brooklyn, I was chatting with my new roommates, lamenting my futile search for the book club of my dreams. One where snacks and wine were essential, themed snacks were mandatory, tangential sidetracking was encouraged, and differences of opinion were fuel to the festivities. “You’re looking for a book club? We have a book club! It’s just us at the moment, but we’re recruiting people!!” Kate excitedly proclaimed.
Done and done.
Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild chronicles her solo 1,100-mile hike through the Pacific Crest Trail. Newly divorced and coping with her mother’s death, Strayed dives into the trials of the trail. She’s profoundly unprepared, despite the hefty chunk of change she drops on gear; cracking open the trail guide on the first day of her hike affords a bemoaned sense of doom only remedied by the fact that, clearly, she lived to tell the tale. But she’s a woman, and an attractive one at that (a fact not lost on Strayed) she receives help from various sources along the way.
Being the over-analyzing girls of Greenpoint, of course we had to get our Cheryl frustrations out first before we could delve into our resounding appreciation for both her writing and the story itself.
On the topic of Cheryl’s overloaded backpack (dubbed Monster), twice the size of burly mens’ packs and a boulder she can barely shoulder: “I love Cheryl, but whatttt the hell was up with Monster? I wanted to scream through the pages ‘Bitch, just take some shit out!!!‘” – Kate
Agreed. Physical burden symbolizing emotional burden, okay okay. But seriously. Sign yourself up for Overpackers Anonymous.
Overall, I loved the book. Strayed writes with a careful tone balanced between self-deprecation and self-discovery. My favorite scenes involved her back-and-forth inner conflict over her mother’s death: shifting from anger to overwhelming sadness to love back to anger, Cheryl’s cycle of emotional progress is as honest and brutal as the winding trail.
Next on the list: Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast
Hey – variety is the spice of life. To prep, we added some additional homework: carefully deliberate these 25 photos of Hemingway living it up and drinking it down.
My kind of book club.